Family ties on the court

Naugatuck High volleyball players, from left, Kathryn, Emma and Nicole Healy used their family connection to their advantage on the court. Kathryn and Nicole are twin sisters and seniors, and Emma, a junior, is their cousin. –KEN MORSE

Naugatuck High volleyball players, from left, Kathryn, Emma and Nicole Healy used their family connection to their advantage on the court. Kathryn and Nicole are twin sisters and seniors, and Emma, a junior, is their cousin. –KEN MORSE

NAUGATUCK — Over the past three years, the Greyhounds have become more than teammates on the volleyball court. They’ve become sisters through the highs and lows of a season.

That family bond grew stronger last year when the Greyhounds had to play every game on the road due to construction at Naugatuck High School.

It was on those long bus rides where friendships were forged for a lifetime. It was also those moments of solace that strengthened the family ties between twin sisters and seniors Kathryn and Nicole Healy, and their outspoken cousin, junior Emma Healy.

When asked who the better volleyball player is, Emma was quick to shout out, “I am,” as she chuckled at the thought. “Just kidding,” she added.

“You don’t want to come over for a family picnic and play volleyball in our backyard, it gets a little heated at the net,” added Emma, who is quick to lighten the mood on the court and during conversations as she is never the bashful type.

Nicole insisted that determining the best volleyball player among the three is a difficult chore.

“It’s hard to say who is a better player,” she said. “We all play different positions and excel in different aspects of the game.”

Head coach Kevin Wesche concurred.

“They all have different skill sets,” he said. “Emma is fearless on defense and has the opportunity to move to the front row next season with her ability to control her hits.

“I call Kathryn and Nicole our book ends. Kathryn is left handed and Nicole is right handed and they have done a great job as outside hitters.”

The Greyhounds compiled a 48-22 record over the past three years and that success began with the communication out on the court. Being family members certainly helps.

“We have been playing for so many years that it works to our advantage out on the court knowing each other’s tendencies,” Kathryn said.

One thing for sure is that each of the Healy girls have contributed to the success of the Greyhounds.

Versus Holy Cross this year the Crusaders were trying to comeback in game three of the match clinging to a 22-19 advantage. Emma dove to the floor to bring up several returns to help get the service back. Kathryn took up serve and Emma assisted Ally Mezzo on a kill that tied the game. Moments later Nicole set up Mezzo for the game-winner.

“Their communication out on the court is a huge asset,” Wesche said. “They are always trying to help each other out to get better with constructive criticism. I usually stay out of it until they are done and then give them my view point.”

“I don’t offer too much advice to my cousins when it comes to playing on the court,” Emma added. “They have been here for four years they know what they are doing. As far as coach Wesche, I give him a hard time once in a while just to keep him on the straight and narrow. It makes everything more fun.”

Kathryn has shown her ability in serve as she had 16 service points and 12 aces in a tight 3-2 win over Ansonia. In the first win of the season her 26 service points and eight aces led the team to a 3-0 win over Watertown.

Nicole developed into a shot blocker at the net and her nine points and two blocks in the Watertown win set the tone at the net. She also showed her offensive skills in a 10-point, six-kill performance against Holy Cross.

Emma has shown an all-around game scoring eight points in a win over Terryville and contributing six points and five kills in a win over Wilby. But it was her fearless defensive mindset with four dig saves in a win over Wolcott that helped Naugatuck to its third straight NVL tournament appearance.

For the twins, this past season might have marked the final time they take the court together for the same team — outside of those family picnics.

“We would like to continue to play in college,” Nicole said. “We both like Mount St. Mary’s in New York but going to the same school or playing volleyball is not a deal-breaker.”

“I think we are more inclined to put our education first,” Kathryn added. “Playing in college would be fun but that is not our sole purpose of going to college.”